Schizophrenia, a basic definition and description of the illness

Essay by marcusb2343University, Bachelor'sA+, September 2002

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Schizophrenia, an often misunderstood disease, is usually interpreted by those not familiar with it as Multiple Personality Disorder, but this is not so. While a person afflicted with schizophrenia may also suffer from multiple personality disorder, it is not the rule of thumb. Unfortunately, due to lack of support from family or friends, many schizophrenics go without proper treatment, and may wind up homeless. This paper will discuss procedures doctors follow when diagnosing the disease, treatment and control of the disease, and finally some of the legal and ethical concerns surrounding those who suffer from schizophrenia.

To start with since there is nothing that can be measured to diagnose schizophrenia, and many of its symptoms are shared by other diseases, what schizophrenia is or is not can not be decided on. However, German psychiatrist, Kurt Schneider developed a list of symptoms, which occur very rarely in diseases other than schizophrenia.

These symptoms include auditory hallucinations in which voices speak the schizophrenic's thoughts aloud. There are also two other forms of auditory hallucinations, in one the victim will hear two voices arguing, in the other a voice will be heard commenting the actions of the person. Schizophrenics may also suffer from the feeling that their actions are being controlled by an external force, or the delusion that certain commonplace remarks have a secret meaning for themselves (Torrey, 1983).

From these symptoms, schizophrenia is divided into four sub-types determined by which symptoms are most prevalent (Strauss, 1987). The four sub-types are paranoid, hebephrenic, catatonic, and finally simple. Paranoid schizophrenics often suffer from either delusions, hallucinations, or both, of a persecutory content. Hebephrenic schizophrenia is characterized by inappropriate emotions, disorganized thinking, and extreme social impairment. Catatonic schizophrenics often suffer from rigidity, stupor, and often mutism. The final form of schizophrenia, simple...